Holy Orders is the Sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles to proclaim the Good News continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. Holy Orders has three degrees, which are the episcopate (bishop), the presbyterate (priest), and the diaconate (deacon). Through the laying on of hands, men are ordained bishop or priest for roles of leadership in the Church or ordained deacon for the role of service in the Church.

The Vocation of Religious Life

The call to religious life is always marked by a desire to serve God and his people. The uniqueness of the call to religious life is living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in community. At the heart of the call to religious life is a desire to give oneself in love to God in a way so complete that the pursuit of union with God makes it impossible for anyone to be more central, making one unavailable for marriage.

The Vows

The vow of chastity arises from a hunger to find a love so immense that it compels one to give one’s whole life to trust that God has an infinite desire and capacity for my well-being and happiness. If you feel this hunger to love and be loved in a way that seems to surpass the human capacity, you may be experiencing a call to religious life. Celibacy expresses a desire to be unconditionally attached to Jesus found in the desire to love more and more people, to see all God’s children, especially the most needy, as the ones with a primary right to one’s care. The lives of religious give witness to the possibility of loving without measure, loving those who have no claim on them as family.

The person called to religious life feels a desire to live simply. The vow of poverty involves the recognition that all things, and indeed creation itself is given by and belongs to God. Religious share material goods in common and depend upon the religious community to provide what is needed. If you feel a desire to be detached from material things, to find your treasure in God, you may be experiencing a call to religious life. Religious poverty witnesses to all people that we do not have an absolute right to accumulate possessions or to treat them as though they were not for the good of all. The vow of poverty is chosen to express dependence upon and trust in God’s care for us.

The vow of obedience is an acknowledgment that all of us are called to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking through the circumstances of our lives. Religious commit themselves to listen to God speaking through the constitutions and decisions of the community and through those members who are appointed as leaders of the community. God’s call is also recognized as coming through the Church and Sacred Scripture, the needs of the world and the mission of the community. Listening is always done in prayer and with respect for each person. The witness of obedience is that we are ultimately dependent on God and that a life of interdependence is the way to holiness.

Signs of a Call to Religious Life

  • Love of God that manifests itself in a desire to give one’s life as a witness to God’s love for all people
  • Desire to live simply
  • Ability to relate with a variety of people
  • Ability to be happy alone and with others
  • Joy in serving others in outreach ministries or parish involvement
  • Generosity
  • Ability to listen to others and accept direction when needed
  • Desire to share God’s love without the need for an intimate relationship with one person
  • Desire to grow in union with God through prayer and service of the needy

For more information on a vocation to Religious life, please visit Vocations.ca.

The Vocation of the Permanent Diaconate

Permanent deacons are ordained for ministry to the People of God with their first responsibility to their families and their second to the way in which they witness in their place of work. The diaconate is primarily a ministry of service, especially to the poor. Deacons share some leadership roles in the gathered assembly. At Mass, they serve at the altar and proclaim the Gospel. They can preach homilies, preside at baptism, weddings and funerals outside of Mass. The call to be a permanent deacon involves a love of the Word of God and a desire to serve the vulnerable and needy in the community.

Signs of a Call to the Permanent Diaconate

  • Love of God that manifests itself in a desire to service God’s People within the wider community
  • Love of the Church
  • Love of God’s Word and a desire to proclaim the gospel
  • Desire to model holiness in service to others through a particular ministry
  • A heart that can listen to others and reach out in healing
  • Generosity
  • Desire to deepen prayer and relationship with God in service to others in need

For more information click here or you can contact Deacon Adrien Chaput.

The Vocation of Priesthood

A vocation to the priesthood differs from a call to religious life. Some priests, however, are also members of religious communities, such as the Franciscans, Jesuits and Dominicans to name a few. In addition to their call to priesthood, these men also feel a call to religious life.
Diocesan priests (those who are not also members of religious communities) do not take the same vows that religious make nor do they commit themselves to live in community. They do make promises of celibacy, of prayer for the People of God and of obedience to their bishop. These promises are primarily for the sake of ministry and stand as a witness to the primacy of God in the life of the priest.

Priests are ordained for ministry, which at its heart is a call to lead the members of the Church to holiness by loving and serving the people of a parish. They have a unique call to lead parish communities by administering the Sacraments and offering pastoral care. The priest lives at the center of the Church and offers his congregation the profound gift of God’s grace and presence by being the one who calls the parish community together for worship. In proclamation and preaching the priest has the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel in ways that inspire and challenge parishioners to live their call to holiness according to their own vocations.

Just as Christ’s role was to be a reconciler, bringing the broken back into relationship with God, so reconciling people to God and one another pervades the call to priesthood. In order to bring healing and health to the Body of Christ, a priest lives close to the people, knowing their triumphs and failures, their pain and joys. He is present with his parishioners at significant moments: when they are initiated into the Church, joined in marriage, bury their loved ones, in sickness. It is in these moments that his special relationship to the Body of Christ is most visible. He is at one and the same time the presence of Christ for the community and the representative or voice of the community in its celebrations. The priest knows the privilege and responsibility of modelling our common call to holiness.

This is a great and wonderful calling and a very demanding one, which certainly justifies a special sacrament of Holy Orders to consecrate this person’s whole life and energy to this crucial task and to endow him with the grace to carry it out to meet such high expectations. Great generosity and wisdom are required, and so great grace is also given.

Signs of a Call to Priesthood

  • Love of God that manifests itself in a desire to give one’s life in service to God’s People
  • Love of the Church and its sacraments and a desire to celebrate the sacraments with the community
  • Love of God’s Word and a desire to proclaim the gospel
  • Desire to model holiness as Christ’s representative among the People of God
  • A heart that can listen to others and reach out in healing
  • Ability to be happy without the intimate companionship of a wife and children
  • Generosity
  • Desire to deepen prayer and relationship with God

For more information on the priesthood, please speak with Father Jim Beanish.